Viola Da Gamba Edition, Vol. 1
Label: BRILLIANT CLASSICS
Rodriguez, Miguel Rincón; Boccaccio, Daniele; Montero, Patxi; Modo Antiquo; Musica Amphion; Opera Prima Ensemble; Fernandez, Lixsania; Belder, Pieter-Jan; Recondita Armonia; Contadin, Cristiano; Donatis, Fiorenza de; Fracassini, Mya
This extensive set celebrates the vast repertoire of viola da gamba music and explores its contribution to the European musical landscape. The viola da gamba descends from the medieval fiddle, and the first viol dates from the 15th century. At first it was held sideways, like a guitar, then inspired by the playing style of Arab rebab musicians, Europeans began holding their instruments upright between the legs and thus the viola da gamba, or ‘leg-viol’ was born. For the next three centuries the viola da gamba repertoire flourished and composers throughout Europe were drawn to the instrument because of its rich tone and versatile range which allowed for expressive variety. Unique for its time, the viola da gamba could act as a solo instrument or in different roles as part of an ensemble; as the melodic lead or bass accompaniment, for example. This set takes us on a whirlwind tour of Europe from the 16th to the 18th centuries and features concertos, chamber music, viol consorts and solo pieces. The set begins in England with the first album dedicated to John Dowland’s work, Lachrimae. Next, we move to Italy, where composers channelled their efforts into writing extroverted concertante music for string ensembles, before touching on treatises by Venetian-born Silvestro Ganassi and Spanish composer Diego Ortiz. Their works represent the earliest collections of music composed exclusively for the gamba. The greatest gamba composers are accorded plenty of space in the set. Marin Marais appears on four albums, three of which are wholly dedicated to the French composer, and certainly anyone who has watched the film Tous les matins du monde will recognize some of the tracks. A different strand of French talent features in the Pieces de viole collection by Antoine Forequeray and his son Jean- Baptiste. Far from the restrained elegance of Marais, the Forequeray’s music delights in passion. Antoine was famous for his dramatic and brash playing style, and the collection is widely accepted to be the most virtuosic in the viola da gamba repertoire. As well as the opportunity to revel in the works of celebrated composers such as J.S. Bach, Purcell and Telemann, the set also showcases the work of lesser-known composers including Johannes Schenck, Angelo Michele Bartolotti and Jacques Morel, whose complete gamba music closes this set.